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In Western North Carolina: Do go chasing waterfalls

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By HILLARY SPEED, AP
BREVARD, N.C

Some are big. Some are small. Some are wide. Some are narrow. Some crash down. Some are a slow trickle. And some, you can slide right down.

There are at least 250 waterfalls in Transylvania County, North Carolina, located about halfway between Asheville, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina. Known as the “Land of Waterfalls,” the region has the biggest concentration of waterfalls on the East Coast, according to the local tourism board. The cascades are particularly dramatic now after record-setting rainfall this spring. Unique features include a temperate rainforest in Gorges State Park, where more than 80 inches (200 centimeters) of rain fall annually.

“This is a land of all kinds of superlatives,” says Nathan Jordan, a spokesman for the Transylvania County Tourism and Development Authority.

With lots of state and national parks in the area, visitors have easy access to other outdoor adventures too, including biking trails and fly fishing.

Travelers who do go chasing waterfalls this summer could challenge themselves to hunt down as many as they can, bucket-list style, or they could make a leisurely jaunt to one or two.

There’s no wrong reason to visit a waterfall.

GO FOR THE INSTAGRAM SHOT



Those who want the best #nofilter photos for the least amount of hiking can easily pop into the Pisgah National Forest and take selfies in front of the 60-foot (18-meter) Looking Glass Falls.

Five miles past the forest’s main entrance, this beast of a waterfall can be viewed within steps of the main road, U.S. 276. A staircase meets the road near the top of the gushing falls. You can park your car and take in the breathtaking view from up there or walk down to get a closer look or even swim.

Movie buffs can pose as Katniss Everdeen, from “The Hunger Games,” at Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, in the DuPont State Forest, near where some scenes from the movie were filmed. At Hooker Falls, in the same forest, see the wide, 13-foot (4-meter) falls where Hawkeye’s canoe plunged in “The Last of the Mohicans” as he fled Magua’s men.

GO TO GET WET



Swimming is permitted at many of the waterfalls in Transylvania County. At Hooker Falls, water from the Little River pours over the ledge to create a large and popular swimming hole with various depths. Those who want calm can wade in the shallow creek area farther away from the falls, while the more adventurous can swim in the deeper parts or even dare to walk along the rocks underneath the falls.

For an even more exhilarating experience, some of the waterfalls are smooth enough to slide down.

At Sliding Rock, less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) down the road from Looking Glass Falls in the Pisgah National Forest, lifeguards monitor visitors who climb to the top of a giant rock formation and then slide down the natural water slide into a 7-foot (2-meter) pool of water at the bottom. Children can ride on their parents’ laps, and life jackets are available for a small fee.

Another popular sliding spot is Turtleback Falls, in Gorges State Park. It’s a steep drop-off and not monitored by lifeguards, and it’s only reached by a strenuous 1.75-mile (2.8-kilometer) hike.

“You need to be a strong swimmer, and it’s not the most family friendly thing in the world, but it is awesome,” Jordan said. “For somebody that’s a millennial and a traveler and a bucket-lister, they’re going to get the biggest thrill out of that destination.”

Pura Vida Adventures offers canyoneering trips that include rappelling down waterfalls, some as high as 75 feet (23 meters). The company also offers family tours themed on “The Hunger Games,” referring to younger participants as “tributes” and teaching survival skills involving fire, shelter, snares, knot-tying and off-trail travel.

GO TO RELAX

While waterfalls offer a dose of the unexpected for visitors chasing thrills, they can also be peaceful and meditative.

A novice waterfall hunter or serenity-seeker might try Moore Cove Falls. The water spills over a stone shelf in a narrow curtain just a few feet across, but its 50-foot (15-meter) freefall cascade is stunning. It’s accessible via a mild 1.4-mile (2.25-kilometer) hike. The water gathers in shallow puddles at the bottom, making it good for small children and those who don’t want to get soaked.

But even here, intrepid visitors can walk behind the falls and take a shower underneath if they’d like.

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